When we were still allowed to go anywhere other than supermarkets, I confess I rarely used the COVID-19 QR code sign-ins wherever I went. In some places, others signed in. In most places, no one did. The reason I didn’t sign in was, and is, simple: I didn’t want to get ‘pinged’ by Serco track and trace.
My motive for not wanting to get pinged is purely financial. In common with many millions of workers, I would not be paid if I was told to self-isolate. To many folk – and I admit I am not in this position – unpaid self-isolation would mean people could not put bread on the table. That is why well over 75% of people do not self-isolate when told to. (That has never happened to me.)
It’s also why many people don’t get a test when they have COVID symptoms. The virus has shown up the class divisions in our country.
Better off middle class workers are more likely to get 100% of their wages when furloughed, with employers making up the 20% not paid by the state. Lower paid workers – and I know this from experience – got the 80% from the state and not a penny more. And 80% of the minimum wage is not a lot.
Obviously, given that we are supposed to be staying at home, I see very few people, but many of those I do see haven’t even bothered to download the track and trace app. And of those that have, many switch off blue tooth when it suits them. These instances are purely down to the potential impact of catching the virus or being told to self-isolate. I have a very simple solution: if people are forced to self-isolate or if they take a test that may mean they have to stay at home, then pay them what they are missing.
Yes, it will be abused. The black economy rolls on as it did before, with vast numbers of people still working ‘cash-in-hand’ and some will get money they shouldn’t have. That will be inevitable, just as it was inevitable that the government would enable fraud on an industrial scale with the furlough scheme, Universal Credit and help to companies. But what else can you do? Carry on as before and the virus will be here for ever.